Sunday, July 30

The Calm Before The Storm

This weekend has been a bit strange. Last week I was frantically chasing suppliers, but of course I can't do that on the weekend, so all I could do was some assembly. I've got the dice and the card, but no print jobs or wooden pieces yet, so pretty much all I can do is make boxes. I've now made twenty-three - enough for all my pre-orders, complementary copies and the ten I want to take to The Cast Are Dice. Ten seems like a lot, but there could be up to two hundred people there, and I definitely want to take too many - it would really suck to run out if it's popular.

Here's the results so far:

Why the storm? Next week I have the playtest event on Thursday, which will require some prototype construction, and I'll also need to collect the first print job, the wooden pieces (hopefully) and send off the second print job. Next week will be even worse - assuming I get the bits in time. Still, I've booked some time off work next week to give me plenty of time for construction.

I'm impressed by the amount of support I'm getting from the gaming community, especially from people I've never met and who've never played the game, but are still interested. Thanks!

Friday, July 28

Supplier Woes

I've been trying to get Border Reivers ready for The Cast Are Dice, and I've three major things to do before I'm ready. I need to receive the wooden pieces from my supplier: Once I've got them I can take a photo of the completed game to put on the back of the game box. Once that's been added I can finally send the second print run to the printers. I need to get the second print run back in time to assemble the tiles and apply the box artwork to the boxes.

Needless to say, things are getting a bit tight. I'd not heard from the wooden pieces suppliers for a week or more since sending them payment and I was expecting to have already received the pieces by now. So I chased them up yesterday and found out that there was a problem with my order, some of the pieces I wanted were end of line and they didn't have enough left to complete my order. So I spent today trying to redesign my order in such a way that I could get it sorted quickly. Hopefully my order is now winging its way to me from Germany, and I'll receive it fairly soon. I think the chance of getting it ready in time for TCAD are fairly slim now - which is a real shame. But I'm learning a lot about dealing with suppliers, and the ups and downs of publishing.

Tuesday, July 25

The tales of a casual games designer: Part 3

As Jack said, First Past The Post works as print and play because it's about 6 A4 pages in total. However the game I've been workign on lately will not be print and play. If it playtests well (I'll be taking it to Cast are Dice hopefully) then I'll be releasing it as "I make, you buy". Something that, as my wife agrees, will make the time I put into creating it a little more worth it. Sure I have to cover costs and some of my time expenses but it should still be cheaper than games on the shelves, and as I'm making it, it will be limited. The game is called "Tour" and is based on the Tour de France. It borrows from Formula De with regards to moving through dice roll - BUT you make a team of five cyclists in a draft with the other players at the start of the game and they have different strengths and weaknesses. You can use "power" to breakaway from the pack but going it alone will eat into your Resilience more quickly and you may well get caught. Stitting in the pack means you don't tire and if you're directly behind another cyclist you get a +1 movement bonus for streamlining. With the normaly roll either 2, 3 or 4 and the breakaway roll either 3, 5, or 7 there's only a small amount of variance in hwo far you go, making tactics and timing more important leading up to the spring finish. I've sorted out the team mats, and a number of player cards (I have to draw the heads of cyclists and scan them in for the cards). My prototype stages are handdrawn on large cartridge paper. There will be two stages per sheet which means people can collect and buy the stages they desire. I just need to come up with a good way of printing the stages - maybe with my father in law's structural engineering printer that prints onto A1 paper.

Friday, July 21

That's A Lot Of Card

The recycled greyboard arrived Friday for Border Reivers, again on the second attempt. I'd ordered it from Craft Creations another UK supplier. I'm impressed with the service, the online shop was easy to use, the delivery was very prompt, despite the large size of the order, and delivery only cost me £3.

£3 sounds pretty cheap, but when you consider I had order 0.086 cubic metres of card you begin to realise just how good a deal that was. It came in three enormous boxes, padded with foam chippings, and the postman was delighted that he didn't have to take them back and unload them from the van again. I appreciated his fervour once I'd lugged the damn things up two flights of stairs :-). I'm still waiting for some tools that were part of the order, hopefully they'll arrive soon.

I've spent the weekend constructing the first batch of boxes - those I need to take to The Cast Are Dice in a couple of weeks time. It takes a while, but at least it's not too difficult and doesn't require lots of thought.

Published vs. Print and Play

A while ago I did a post on methods of getting your game published, and I included:

  • Submit it to a publisher,
  • Publish it yourself in an amateur fashion,
  • Publish it yourself professionally.

That very evening, Luke posted with his tales of his Print and Play experiences. I guess that begs the question: Why didn't I consider Print and Play? Technically it counts as publishing, as members of the public get the opportunity to own and play your game.

I've nothing against Print and Play games. I think it's a nice, selfless way of publicising your game - unlike the methods I suggested you are not going to make any money (whereas with the methods I suggested, it's unlikely you'll make any money - but there it that possibility). Here are my perceived pros and cons for Print and Play:


  • It's free for the designer,
  • It's almost effortless for the designer,
  • It's practically free for the players.


  • Giving you game away free may cause people to perceive it to be of lower value,
  • Not great for games with lots of (complicated) components,
  • Construction requirement may put people off.

I think it's the second listed con that stopped me considering Print and Play for Border Reivers, with it's seventy-two double sided tiles, fifty cards, and nearly one hundred wooden pieces in five different colours it's not an easy game to cobble together yourself. Luke's First Past The Post by contrast is perfect - a card game featuring only cards and a few small finance tokens.

So in conclusion, if you've got a game with simple components such as cards or tokens, that only requires pieces that most players will have to hand such as D6s, counters or pencil and paper and you've no intention to make money from it, then Print and Play could well be the way to go for you.

Tuesday, July 18


I'm still waiting for the wooden pieces to come over from Germany, but I've now finished the artwork on one of the two print jobs for the printers. This was submitted to them this evening, so hopefully I'll be getting a proof copy fairly soon.

The second print job is waiting on a photo of the completed game, which is in turn waiting on the wooden pieces. Hopefully they'll get here soon, as this second print job is the one that features more construction on my part and hence requires more time.

Saturday, July 15

First Delivery

At 9am this morning we had a rude awaking by the TNT guy who was delivering the dice I had ordered from Plastics for Games. He'd been round already on Friday while I was at work, but it was really easy to arrange a new delivery, far better than some other courier firms I've had to deal with recently.

I'd ordered 200 D6s for the combat, and 100 D10s for the reinforcements, plus 400 card-stands to hold the mountain ranges upright. I've not counted them, but I'm happy with the quality, and the service was remarkably prompt. Delivery seemed a little steep (£15 + VAT inside the UK for a fairly small box), but the dice themselves were pretty cheap. They've a minimum order of £50 though.

I also popped along to Beyond Monopoly briefly to buy some baggies from Jon - believe it or not he was cheaper than several suppliers I had found, plus no delivery charge :-) Sadly I didn't have time to stop and play games...

I'm hoping the wooden pieces will arrive from Germany fairly early next week.

Thursday, July 13

An Update

I've been very busy over the last week or so since I got back from holiday as I'm trying to get the artwork for Border Reivers finished by this weekend so that I can start sending it to the printers in time for The Cast Are Dice on August 12/13th in Stoke-on-Trent. I'll be constructing the tiles and boxes myself, as well as cutting out the cards in an attempt to reduce the costs, so I need to get the stuff back from the printers with time to spare. I'm making a run of 100 copies, fortunately I don't need to construct them all at once.

This last week I've bought a colour A3 printer (so I can look at the artwork myself and make a more accurate prototype for the last bit of blind-playtesting) then promptly had to take the damn thing back as it was trashing the page as it printed. Fortunately, it did ok with card so I could get the cards and the scoreboard done before I exchanged the printer for a (hopefully less knackered) new one.

I've also done the scoreboard design and started the box design, and since I'm doing a short day at work tomorrow I hope to get it finished on time. The only slight worry is the Border Reivers logo and box illustration which my Dad is doing for me (he was an art teacher, and now that he's retired is a full-time artist). Hopefully Dad will come through on time.

I've also set up a business account at the bank, and now that I've got the cards and cheque-books and stuff I've been able to start ordering. It's sooo exciting :-) I'm hoping the dice & card stands will arrive tomorrow, while the wooden pieces (from www.SpielMaterial.De) I ordered today and should hopefully arrive early next week. I've nowhere to put any of this stuff in our tiny flat, should have thought of that first...

Friday, July 7

Good Progress on Border Reivers

I had the day off work yesterday so I got to spend a decent chunk of time moving Border Reivers forward. I finished the design of the scoreboard, and made some progress on the several of the other components. I also printed out the cards and scoreboard using their new design so that my prototype looks more accurate for the blind playtesting I'll be doing over the next couple of weeks.

I finished off the day with a trip to the bank to set up a business bank account, which went smoothly. At the end of the meeting I asked about a machine that would allow me to accept debit/credit card payments and a convention, and the guy I was speaking to went out to speak to the Branch Manager. The Branch Manager came in and put me off the PDQ machine as it would be too expensive, he then admitted the main reason he'd come in was to see the prototype I'd brought with me - which I duly showed him. He then placed an order :-) They may have got my business but I got theirs too.

Needless to say I was rather pleased with that result.

Thursday, July 6

The tales of a casual games designer: Part 2

Well, I have over 300 views of my First Past The Post entry on BGG and although my own views are in the tens, it means other people ARE looking! Hopefully a percentage will be happy to print it out and give it a try. Anyways, my reason for print and play for this game are numerous but mainly because I see the game as a light filler, the first 'proper' game I've looked at developing and have completed, and one that I AM proud of, but know that it can probably be tested, tried and feedback left. Something I HAVE spoken with my wife about (who'd be much happier if my games invention turned into income, however miserly the amount) is going the whole print and sell approach myself - printing as required on decent quality card with a good finish and put into a well made and printed box. Of course I need a better printer to do that, but if it's a possibility who knows. I think as more games come from my brain, there will at least be one that I think "Oooooh this is it!" in which case I'll look to playtest and then approach a company to produce, although of course games chosen are few, and income for the designer can be very low anyways. My boardgames club was chosen to playtest a game on the verge of full scale production last week and apaprantly it was extremely average. Yeah yeah, there's joy in having a game produced and sold for you, but I want to be PROUD of it, and these first few games I see as paving the way for future successes and while I love First Past The Post and enjoy playing it, I feel there are better games within me.

Monday, July 3

I'm Back!

I'm now back from my holiday, so there will be some content arriving here soon. I'm now in the big push for Border Reivers trying to get it ready for The Cast Are Dice so I'll be posting less frequently for a while.

While I was away, I didn't play any games (The Wife wanted a well-deserved break from my games obsession), but I did take a notebook, and I did a fair bit of work on Codename:Dollyo, my second game, and I came up with another game idea: Codename: Beachcomber, a tile-laying game where you compete as young siblings trying to find interesting items on a beach, it's early days yet, but I think it has legs...

In other news, I won a copy of Football Tactics 2006 in a World Cup themed competition on BGG while I was away, and I've just been to collect it from the Post Office. I look forward to many games where England don't have a man sent off, and don't go out of a major competition on bloody penalties again.